Bear, deer, sheer…

These three words pretty much sum up my High Peaks experience.

Having found a site that showed some trails, the peaks they scaled, and some approximate distances I decided that I’d have a go at walking over Gothics, Armstrong, and perhaps the Wolfjaws. The height of 4700ft didn’t sound like that much until I saw Whiteface Mtn near Lake Placid, at which point I realised it would be quite a hike.

With directions on how to get to the Ausable Club trailhead, I started bright and early at about 7am on Sunday. The first 4 or so miles was supposed to be rather uneventful, walking to the top of Lower Ausable Lake along a private road. A few miles down the road I was surprised to look up and see a bear looking at me. It was off the road, and looked curious rather than imposing. My first though was “phew! it’s not too big”, and my second thought was “oh shit, it’s not too big!”. Thankfully it appeared to be alone and I backed off and switched camera lenses. The bear went back to its foraging, and I sauntered past, taking a few pics as I went.

if you think it’s out of focus, go find your own bear…

Having seen a bear in the first hour of my trip, I wondered how I could possibly top the experience, and whether the rest of the day would just be a lot of walking up hills. At the start of the real trail my question was answered by a mummy and baby deer. I surprised them, and was readying my camera since I wanted a shot before they ran off. How naive of me. Instead of fleeing, the mum came towards me… and I hastily continued up the trail. She crossed the trail behind me, and when I looked back again, she did a little charge towards me. This rather surprised and scared me so I again hastily carried on up the trail, with many furtive glances back to see that I wasn’t about to be… well whatever attacking deer do to curious hikers. I only got one photo, and it looks like trees and no deer unfortunately.

From there it was onwards and upwards, mostly upwards. The trails were again much more rugged that I’d expected, and I found myself scrambling up sheer rock and hanging onto trees many times throughout the day, thus completing the third part of my alliterative title. My first proper stop was the top of Gothics (here’s some ideas about naming the high peaks), where I hung out with John and a mouse for a while. I declined John’s offer to take a photo, and did a silly one myself…

like my hat? it’s covered in DEET

At 4736ft, Gothics was the highest peak of the day, the rest was downhill (on average), but with some significant scrambling in places to get up Armstrong Mtn, and Upper and Lower Wolfjaws. Thus bagging me 4 out of a total 46 Adirondack high peaks (the high peaks are all over 4000ft). People who climb all 46 get to join a club and get a badge, or 10/10 and a Koala stamp as Philip Adams would say. Though it’s a bit hard to see, this photo looks back over the all the peaks I climbed, aside from the distant one at the far right, from the last one, Lower Wolfjaw.

Upper Wolfjaws, Armstrong Mtn, and Gothics, with a few other minor ones thrown in for good measure

I enjoyed the rest of the walk, though was getting sore knees by the end, and started singing to myself for fear that I’d come upon more large animals that took exception to my presence. I walked with a fellow from New York city for a while, grateful for some company, and got back to the car around 5pm, ten hours after I’d left it.

The rest of the photos are here. Along with a story about the rest of the Adirondacks trip, and associated photos.

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